A Boston punk band basically born in the pandemic emerges for gigs, new EP
It can be a bit far-fetched to imagine a band starting out during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that’s practically the origin story for the Boston melodic punk trio the Jacklights.
Vocalist and guitarist Nilagia McCoy, bassist Mike Allen, and drummer Steve Patton made themselves known in the scene with their debut self-titled EP that came out last October. Then they followed that up with a music video for the single “Winter” that hit YouTube the following January, and now they’re putting out their sophomore record. It’s another EP, Drift, and it shows an evolution in the band’s vintage sound while grabbing hold of their energetic approach.
With their latest due to drop this month, potentially to be one of the top records to come out of Boston in 2021, McCoy and I spoke about what got her into punk, the Jacklights being her first legit music venture, the EP, and getting back to playing out live on a regular basis.
What made you first get into punk rock? Was it a movie, a record or a family member?
I would say that I got into it when I was a preteen, maybe even a little bit younger than that in the ’90s. I grew up in San Diego, so I’m sure you can imagine during that time in California there was a lot of punk with bands like Green Day, Descendents, Bad Religion, and Pennywise being pretty much all over the radio and stuff. That’s pretty much how I got into that style of music.
Is the Jacklights the first band you’ve ever been in? How long have you, Mike, and Steve known each other?
This is my first “real band.” I’ve been doing music on my own for quite some time, I started playing guitar when I was 16. When I was in college I would play an acoustic guitar, and then a few years ago I got involved with Ladies Rock Camp, so I was doing some collaborations with some people through that. This isn’t full-time because we all have day jobs, but this is my first concentrated effort. Both Mike and Steve have been very active in the Boston music scene for a very long time, Steve used to be in the ska punk band Have Nots and Mike has also been in a bunch of smaller local bands.
The way we started out was that I had a couple songs that I was sitting on for a while, they were songs I had written over the past couple of years. I decided that I wanted to put these out into the world, so Mike and I met in October of 2019 through the magic of the internet and then we met up with Steve in January of last year. We originally had gigs lined up for the following spring and we were planning on going on tour and then obviously the pandemic hit which kind of changed things just a bit.
With the Drift EP, did you aim to do anything differently than you did with your self-titled debut that came out last October?
I feel that the biggest difference this time around is the production. It’s a little more polished sounding and overall the songs on Drift are a little more upbeat, even though I’d like to think all of our stuff is pretty energetic. To me, it really kind of felt like a pop-punk, summer-vibe type of record. The Descendents were a big influence while making the EP and we were going for that kind of sound on some of the tracks. It’s slightly different from our first release in that regard.
It seems to embrace more of that raw early ’70s to mid-’80s punk style. Old school, energetic, in your face type of stuff.
Speaking of the production and that era of music, you got to work with Dave Minehan on the EP at Wooly Mammoth Sound in Waltham, with him being the producer. He’s a Boston legend from his time playing with the Neighborhoods and the Replacements, so what was the experience like working with him?
We were initially connected with him through Justine Couvault, who runs Red On Red Records, so that’s how that connection happened. One of Mike’s previous bands had recorded with him as well. I think it was one of those things where he has quite the reputation locally and his resume can be a little intimidating, but overall we were happy with the recording process and with how it turned out. There isn’t necessarily a ton of production, our band tends to be a little more hands-off in that regard. When we entered the studio we already had an idea of what we wanted the songs to sound like so we just wanted someone to help us get what we were looking for, Dave definitely did that and more.
What are the Jacklights’ plans for the rest of the summer? Another music video? Are you scoping out venues for a possible release show later in the year?
We are going to have a video coming out soon for one of the songs on Drift. I can’t say too much about it at this point but we’re excited and I think it’s going to have kind of a fun, summer vibe like I mentioned earlier. We do have a show lined up at Ralph’s Rock Diner out in Worcester on July 30 which we’re viewing as sort of an EP release show. Then in August we’ll be at Dusk in Providence on the 14th, we got some other things that are in the works but not solidified as of yet. This summer has been a bit weird for us because we’re all coming out of the pandemic and people are planning out vacations.
For the coming months we plan on playing around the Boston area and other places in New England while being more active in the fall. We’re kind of doing a slow roll into it.
Rob Duguay is an arts & entertainment journalist based in Providence, RI who is originally from Shelton, CT. Outside of DigBoston, he also writes for The Providence Journal, The Connecticut Examiner, The Newport Daily News, Worcester Magazine, New Noise Magazine, Northern Transmissions and numerous other publications. While covering mostly music, he has also written about film, TV, comedy, theatre, visual art, food, drink, sports and cannabis.